Call volume increases for contact tracers ahead of the holidays

Local News

DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA)– Vermilion County is having a harder time keeping up with contact tracing as the holidays approach.

Contact tracing is the process of reaching out to each person who has tested positive for COVID-19 and then reaching out to each of their close contacts.

The Vermilion County Health Department has six part-time employees handling days, evenings and weekends, according to Public Health Administrator Doug Toole.

He said tracers can’t always keep up, especially with a spike in new cases in the county in the last couple of weeks.

It’s hard to keep contact tracers, Toole added, given it is temporary work with no benefits. Not to mention, it’s a rather lengthy list of questions the callers walk through with each person and the calls aren’t always easy.

“We understand that this time of year, as we’re talking to people about quarantine and isolation, we’re right up against the holidays. We’re upsetting Thanksgiving plans, we’re talking to kids who are getting knocked out of school,” Toole explained.

The one thing that’s changed the contact tracing process some in the last year and a half is the vaccine. Nowadays, if you’re a close contact but have been vaccinated and aren’t showing symptoms, you don’t need to quarantine.

Other than that, it’s the same process.

Toole said no matter where you get tested in Illinois, the results are put into a state database. Positive cases are broken down by county and sent to those local health departments, and unless they’re falling behind, that’s who would call you. When the county health departments can’t keep up with the call volume, the state’s Surge Center fills in the gaps, according to Toole.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.